Matthew combines a lot of Jesus' parables in his Gospel. In Matthew chapter 13, we find eight parables. They begin with a tale about a sower and end with a story about a fisherman's net. In the middle of all these parables, Jesus drops a couple of parables with similar themes:
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44–46).
Let's look at the point these parables were intended to teach us.
What is the Kingdom of Heaven?
For the most part, the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God are two terms that are used throughout the Gospels interchangeably. These terms lie at the heart of Jesus' teaching. When He bursts onto the scene, it's to announce that the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:2).
You also find Jesus making many other statements about the kingdom of heaven/God, including:
- "The kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28b).
- "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 16:19a).
- "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).
- "The kingdom of God is in your midst [or 'is within you']" (Luke 17:21b).
This kingdom represents the place where God rules. Unlike worldly kingdoms where satanic and human influences vie for control and power, God alone reigns in the kingdom of heaven. And His kingdom is both a present reality and a future expectation.
At some point in the future, the kingdom of heaven will be a literal domain where Christ rules. In the interim, the kingdom exists in the hearts of everyone who worships Christ as Lord. We look forward to a glorious reality where followers of Jesus live in the kingdom of heaven, but for now, the kingdom lives within us.
What's this Kingdom worth to us?
In both the Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Parable of the Pearl, Jesus wants us to understand the real value of prioritizing this kingdom above all else. In both parables, the protagonists recognize the treasure they have found and are willing to trade everything they own to possess it.
But since we don't pay money to follow Jesus, what is the application?
We have to remember that there is a cost associated with following Jesus. For us to truly be under Jesus' rule, we will constantly make sacrifices. Every day we’re faced with opportunities for obedience. Sometimes that means being willing to surrender perfectly good things out of love for the Lord.
The kingdom of heaven might cost us relationships, jobs, security, and maybe even our lives.
In these two parables, Jesus wants to encourage us that there isn't anything that we can give up that is more valuable than His kingdom. Every single sacrifice we make that empowers us to better submit to the lordship of Christ is absolutely worth it.
We just need to pray for the faith to receive this truth, and the discipline to live it out.
Learn more from the parables
All Scripture references quote the New International Version unless otherwise noted.